Bridge City Announces Commemmorative Tool #16

One of my favorite quotes dates back to the turn of the 20th century and has been the foundation for all of our Commemorative Tools;

“It must be useful, it must work dependably, it must be beautiful, it must last, it must be the best of it’s kind”. –Alfred Dunhill

Once each year we announce a very special tool that we pledge never to make again–and we try to honor Alfred Dunhill’s maxim with each edition. We are pleased to share that the the 2008 Commemorative Tool is the CT-16 Palm Brace.

Unless you own our original PB-1 Palm Brace introduced back in 2000, it is unlikely you have ever used such a tool–here’s the back story…

While on a trip to the east coast, I found myself in a dank basement surrounded by old engineering books (it’s a long story) when I stumbled across a user’s manual for a Model-A Ford (could have been a Model T, I can’t remember). The illustrations caught my eye, they were all woodcuts and the work involved to illustrate this manual seemed staggering to me. The mildew stench was a bit much too, but an image of a hand tool designed to hone the engine block valve seats caught my eye. This tool was not made to make full revolutions, apparently you swung the arm to and fro and the tapered abrasive cone honed the seat. It was the scale of the tool that really intrigued me–it appeared to be about six inches in length.

Once back in Portland I played with a couple of ideas and hit many dead ends regarding the scale of a new tool and the scale of available 3-jawed chucks–I could not make this work visually. I took a quick trip to Taiwan to visit a chuck manufacturer but that too was a dead-end. Only when the epiphany of “why use a traditional chuck at all” did the project come together.

The original PB-1 was a big hit amongst our customers as it was designed to use most bits/drivers with 1/4″ hex shanks. Not only did it do a great job drilling all the small holes required in project making, it is likely the best screwdriver I have ever used. The CT-16 Palm brace is superior in many ways–and like many well made hand tools, once you can count on reliable and consistent results, you find great joy in knowing that you are the motor.

First, the chuck has a positive lock–drills back out of holes and stay in the chuck–an occasional annoyance of our first chuck design that has now been fixed.

The swing handle of the PB-1 was awkward for those of you with bear-paw hands–that has been rectified.

The CT-16 Palm Brace is made from stainless steel, black chromed aluminum and  black chromed steel (the swing handle is aluminum which keeps the majority of the mass centered over the drilling axis) and is one of the nicest tools we have produced over the past 25 years. And for those who had a chance to play with the CT-16 prototype at WIA last month, feel free to share your thoughts.

Pricing will be announced in a day or two and when complete we will update our website. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the sneak peek of the short video Michael put together–we think Alfred would be pleased.


16 comments on this post:

  1. F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C !!!

    For handtools ” lovers”, for hight-tech fans, for perfectionists, for puristis…


  2. I was one of the lucky ones who got to touch this baby. It feels so amazing – smooth and silky, but with a pleasant weight to it.

    I confess that my first thought was, “Thank goodness! I don’t need a palm brace.” But you know how that goes: the more I looked at it, the more I fell in love. Talk about the best screwdriver you ever had! And that chuck is a thing of genius. Quick, easy and elegant.

    So now I’m wondering more and more whether I need something as beautiful/functional as this. As my wife would say, “Need/want. Need/want.” At some point “need” is not the right question.

    You’re going to love this tool.

    - Peter

  3. John,

    Do all the Bits in the Video come with the CT-16.

    Another question, I have purchased a couple tools from you but I am not a member to be able to purchase this tool. Can I purchase the membership and the CT-16 at the same time?

  4. All of the bits in the video are part of the complete kit–most important, they are all made in America so we know they will fit in our DJ-1 bushings (if one chooses to use that tool in tandem with the CT-16).

    Tthe CT-16 can be purchased as a single item. As mentioned, we are making this once and have no plans to inventory bits –and yes, this is the one tool each year made exclusively to thank our Founder’s Circle members for their ongoing support–without them we would not be here. You can join and purchase at the same time.


  5. John,

    Great looking brace! I have a PB-1 that sees frequent use, as will the CT-16 I’m sure. One question though, It appears that the drill bits are smaller than the bushings that shipped with the DJ-1, so are there any plans to offer a small bushing package as well?

    Peter, you NEED a palm brace!


  6. Rutager-

    We do have a 1/16″ bushing for the DJ-1 that nobody knows about (I think). I wanted this to drill down the center of 1/8″ dowel…I will show you pics of what I am up to when I actually do it.

    We don’t plan on stocking bushings (we are in the anti-inventory business) but we can tell you where you can get whatever you want–talk/email with Michael.


  7. John,

    Michael has a posting on the Community Forum under the DJ-1 section that gives info on the company that can supply bushings. I haven’t tried to order any yet, but as it turns out they are located here in MN! so I can pick them up pretty easy.

    I know that you are in the anti-invetory business, because you’re “storing” all your tools in my basement! Okay if I use them?


  8. We have some extra bushings, including the special 1/16″ and some metric. They’ll be live on the website tomorrow. Limited supply so make sure you check tomorrow! The BCTW hats will be live tomorrow too!
    The drill bit set is 1/16″ to 1/4″ by 64ths so yes, there are some sizes there that were not standard in the DJ-1 kit.

  9. John,

    Will this brace accept off the shelf 1/4″ hex bits so in case we can’t buy your bits we can walk into a hardware store and buy some?

  10. Off the shelf bits will work fine–there are many that we are not including in this offer; nut drivers for example (we only sell American made bits). In order for the bit to lock in the chuck it must have a waist for the detent to work. Bits without a waist work, but are not locked.


  11. Hat’s off to you John. Looks like a fine product.

    You need to reopen ordering for the DJ-1 – great synergy, but not if you cannot order both.

    Michael posted that the products would be posted on 10/21. It’s 10/21 and there’s nothing there yet..waiting, waiting, waiting…

  12. We are backlogged at the moment fulfilling all of the orders for the Kerfmaker–will post the CT-16 and how to get in on the next run of the DJ-1 hopefully before the week is over.

  13. John & Michael,

    Like ole pfranks I too was able to lay my greasy palms on the PB-1. It is one of the most gorgeous tools that I have seen. What surprises me the most was that it did not “accidentally” fall in my pocket.:o I really cannot wait to have the PB-1 in my shop.


    Today I received the blade you sent me as well as my new Bridge City hat. :o As with everything else from you guys the hat is also really great looking. Thank you.


  14. Next week!

    “The Tool Everybody Want’s Real Bad” is keep us from announcing the Tool You Want Real Bad. Likely will announce on Tuesday but don’t hold me to it–as this staff will attest, I don’t know squat.


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